Dr. Farley Cleghorn, MD is an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert with over 30 years' experience in international health development, research and program implementation. At Palladium, a global impact firm with operations in over 90 countries, Dr. Cleghorn is Chief Medical Officer, focused on holistic responses to global health priorities based on sustainable health systems, implementation science, health promotion and prevention. He had a distinguished career at the US National Institutes of Health before serving as a senior scientist and faculty member at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He holds an MD and MPH from Johns Hopkins University and is trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases.
The news today on the coronavirus is mixed. The epidemic continues to break records in the United States, with approximately 250,000 preventable deaths.
The interim results released by Pfizer yesterday are not conclusive, but they are encouraging. It should be noted, though, that the vaccine does not prevent transmission of the virus - it prevent the clinical outcome of the virus, which is COVID-19. This means that we cannot relax our infection control measures even after we start administering a vaccine like the Pfizer vaccine (such as social distancing, hygiene, mask-wearing). We simply don't know what the impact will be on transmission.
Making and avoiding crowds and indoor spaces will still have to be practiced even as we roll this vaccine out. But it will give comfort to high-risk groups.
Even if this vaccine pans out, we're well into next year before we have a reasonable distribution to the people who need it most.9 November 2020
AstraZeneca has paused their Phase III trials. I see this as a relatively routine issue and if it happened outside of the current coronavirus context, no one would blink. Given the stakes the attention is immense.
While all the coronavirus candidate vaccines appear relatively reactogenic (high occurrence of mild side effects), this volunteer apparently had what we refer to as a severe adverse event (SAE) and has been hospitalized.
Any SAE must be assumed to be related to the vaccine (even if the volunteer developed appendicitis, for instance) and thoroughly investigated and reported to the Data Safety and Monitoring Board.
So, all is going according to plan despite this pause.9 September 2020